Monday, July 27, 2009

Living Room

Considering this is the room you enter when you walk through the front door we probably should have tackled it first. Instead it became a temporary storage room, and was the last thing I wanted to see everyday when I walked into the house after a long day at work.

Here are some pics of the room when we first moved in (and before we started using it for storage!).

(Please excuse the squares I painted onto the wall - we were trying to decide between blue or green.)

I had been collecting things for the room so in April when Josh's dad and step mom came to visit we quickly moved all the boxes out and made a temporary set up with a few things we'd bought and some other things we had lying around.
Then at the end of May we finally started working on the room. The walls were dusty and dirty, the blinds weren't in the greatest shape, and there was that less-than-awesome entry light. We painted 2 walls and the ceiling a light, muted blue and the other 2 walls a slightly darker shade from the same paint swatch. I really hope we love the color for a looong time because painting those high walls and ceiling was brutal! Then we replaced the blinds and the light fixture.

After that I got started on the fun part. I was aiming for a bright and cheery room and I'm really happy with how it turned out!

We decided to leave the upper windows uncovered. I've noticed that some people in our neighborhood have blinds up there and others have used frosted window film but we like the light coming in. .

I still need to work on the staircase railings. They look white from far away but they are actually very dirty with tons of stains. I need to repaint all the white and also think of something to do with that oak - I am just not into the light wood look.
(That half wall going up the stairs looks white in the pic but its actually the same color as the other walls)

Then there was that long, tall wall opposite the sofa that needed something.

We decided some kind of organization system would be perfect because it could fill up some wall space and give us some storage space. We had a shelf from our old apartment that was just sitting in the garage unused so we made a quick trip to target for some storage baskets, mounted the shelf on the wall and ta-da!

I added a large collection of frames to take up even more of that wall space.
Zeke kept sneaking into the photos - he's such a camera hog!

You are probably thinking that having a white sofa is pure madness. That sofa used to have a beige slip cover and one day Hobbes expressed her anal glands on one of the cushions (yes, you really read that) and when we washed it it faded unevenly and never looked quite the same. My rational is that I can bleach the slip cover as many times as I need to and it will keep looking good. (I do have to vacuum it to remove cat hair fairly often though.)

I would say that 90% of the things in the room are from Target and Ikea and the rest are accessories and frames I've picked up at various places so it was a very affordable make-over.

I probably broke some decorating rule by having a cool color scheme in the living room and a warm color scheme in the family room right next to it but I don't care!

We really love it!!!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The recipe

I've had a few requests for the summer berry preserve recipe so here it is ...

Mixed Summer Berry Preserves
3 baskets strawberries
2 baskets blueberries
3 baskets raspberries
3 baskets blackberries
Juice from 1 lemon
Zest from 1 orange
1.5 cups of sugar
Low or No sugar Pectin
6 Pint size canning jars (I had 8-oz size so I made 12 jars)

  • Rinse fruit and trim strawberries. Put fruit aside.
  • Prep jars by boiling them in hot water. (Just follow the directions on the bottom of the box that the jars came in.)
  • After your jars are sanitized, mix fruit together and place in a large pot on the stove. Add the lemon juice, orange zest, and sugar to the pot.
  • Bring your fruit to a boil and stir every minute. The fruit will begin to break down. It will begin to turn a bit more liquid and form a bit of foam at the surface.
  • Six minutes into the boiling process, add 1/2 box of low sugar pectin to the pot and stir to allow it to dissolve. Cook for 4 more minutes.
  • After 10 minutes of cooking, turn the heat off, and ladle your chunky fruit mixture into your jars. Leave 1/3 inch of head space at the top.
  • Wipe the rim of your jar to allow your lid to seal properly.
  • Seal your jar of preserves with a lid and rim, then place your jars into a large pot and cover with boiling water. Process, or boil, your jars for 12 minutes.
  • Remove your jars from the water and listen for the “pop” that occurs when your jars are sealed.
  • Allow to cool for 24 hours.
  • Eat and ENJOY!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Summer berry preserves

I love toast with butter and jam. Love it. To me its perfect for breakfast, lunch, snacks and sometimes even dinner (usually not all in the same day!). Unfortunately I prefer the expensive kind with lots of fruit and very little sugar and other stuff mixed in. And that can get, well, expensive. So this year I decided to try making my own.

On Saturday morning I went to the farmers market and got strawberries, blackberries, raspberries and blueberries.

On Saturday night I washed everything and de-stemmed the strawberries. I did a lot of 'quality control' tasting while I was washing them!

Is your mouth watering yet?

Now I have 12 jars of this yumminess!

The recipe I used said to add the zest of an orange. I was curious to find out how berries plus orange zest would taste and I'm happy to report that its delicious - the orange zest adds a really nice element! I probably should have added more pectin because its a little runny but its not too bad.

Now I really want to make apricot jam but that seems like a lot more work!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Pillows and pets

This morning I finished making throw pillows out of this fabric that I'm kind of in love with ...

I bought it a couple of months ago because I loved the color and pattern but I wasn't sure what to make with it. A few weeks ago I found a super cheap green rug at Ikea for for the living room so I decided to make the fabric into throw pillows for the sofa to bring in some more green. Yay!

Not 30 minutes after I placed the new pillows on the sofa where did I find our animal family?

Of course they weren't on the brown (a great color for hiding pet hair) sofa in the family room. Nope, they were chilling on the white (a perfect color for showing pet hair) sofa in the living room, enjoying the new pillows. Thank goodness for slipcovers and bleach!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Fresh cut fruit

For some reason Monkey claims any box we put on the floor as his new bed. He turns up his nose at his soft cat bed, but can't wait to curl up in a cardboard box. This cat is odd. This is his latest bed (which is going in the recycling bin tomorrow - sshhh don't tell him):

My favorite part of the photo is the look on his face - its like he was thinking "get that camera out of my face".

Friday, July 10, 2009

Mirror, mirror

Last weekend I had great luck at Home Goods. I've been looking for a large black mirror to go above the sofa in the living room but I've been having no luck. (Probably because I'm always looking for a major deal!)

Well at the very back of a stack of mirrors I found this blue one that is the perfect size AND marked down. Score! I didn't measure it exactly but its about 40" x 30".

(Zeke approves)

It has a wood frame so its easily paintable, and I had black paint leftover from when we made our headboard.

First a light sanding and a coat of tinted primer.

Then 3 coats of black semi-gloss paint.

Not bad for $36 + tax!

I still have to make throw pillows, finish the art/photo wall, and install the new light fixture and then I can check this room off my list. Yay for progress!!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Dear neighbors who live in the house behind ours:

Wow. You guys clearly aren't getting along. And apparently you forgot your windows are open. Maybe try closing them so the entire neighborhood isn't privy to your dirty laundry.

Love and kisses,
Your neighbors

(I would share some excerpts from the overheard fight but they aren't exactly PG. Or even PG-13 actually. Cuss-fest-o-rama.)

Monday, July 6, 2009

Pet art

Our living room is finally coming together (paint and blinds, check!) so now I'm working on things for the walls.
There was a space next to the front door that needed something so I made these cute silhouettes of our pet-children - it makes me smile every time I see it. (Yes, we're those weird, obsessed-with-their-pets type of people.)

From top to bottom: Hobbes, Monkey, and Zeke

What do you think? Dorky? Cute?

Friday, July 3, 2009


We ate the first (and only completely ripe) cherry tomato the other night. I plucked it from the vine, rinsed it with the hose, bit off half and gave the other half to Josh. It was the most delicious tomato I've ever eaten! :-)

A peachy surprise

This past Sunday was hot. H-O-T-T hot. Mid-afternoon we went out on the back deck to check out the exact temperature. I wasn't kidding when I said it was hot.

While we were on the deck I started looking out at the left side of our yard. I generally try to avoid looking at it because it needs a lot of work and currently looks like this:

All of a sudden something caught my eye: what's growing on that tree and is that our tree? (Its hard to tell what is ours and what is coming over the fence from the neighbors.)

After wading through the grassy overgrowth I discovered that we have a peach tree absolutely covered in peaches!!! They are quite small (probably because we haven't watered the tree since, well, ever) but they looked good so I grabbed one and bit into it. It was delish! Josh was disgusted that I'd just grabbed a peach off the tree and bitten into it without washing it first - he thought it was a little too 'rustic' :-)

Next year I'm definitely trimming back the neighbors' trees and watering that baby - I figure if the tree did this well being totally ignored imagine how amazing the fruit will be with a little TLC!!!

Thursday, July 2, 2009


This guy was walking across our deck on Sunday morning. I didn't realize he was watching me until I uploaded the photos ... creepy.